Posts Tagged ‘sounds’

So today I hung around after a music history exam to do help a friend do all the sound/roadie work for the performance exams, he certainly manages to do a lot of different things at once.

1. The Setup

First we had to get in contact with whoever was performing and asked them what was on stage and what would be miked. We set up 3-4 mics for the first couple of exams even though we knew we probably wouldn’t need them, it was a just in case. Most of the exams just required lugging gear on and off, and some slight monitoring on the piano (which was normally the only thing miked). However, some exams wanted more miked, the most intense being a guy singing/playing piano or playing a leslie organ (alternated between songs), a small choir, a lead vocalist, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. The organ, all the vocals (choir of six had 1 mic between 2) and the piano (bass but was muted as it didn’t need any reinforcing) were miked. Everything had 58s on it except the piano which had a dynamic mic I can’t recall on it. 2 foldback wedges were run out the front daisy chained, also. This set up (including the instruments) had to be completed in a little over 30 min. This was the biggest challenge and the reason for not using more interesting mics/setup.

I found during this that the most important part of the speedy setup is to try and neaten mic cables as you’re running them, rather than afterward and ALWAYS try to work from left to right. Because without time to do a labelling system, and without an incredible memory, this will be your saviour. Keep gaffa tape with you if you can, so that you don’t have to go find it when you want to tape something, and you can do some of the taping while you go.

Also, without a sound check or any way for the performers to let you know if theres anything they want in their foldback there isn’t much you can do other than guess, but there are some things you can listen for that may help. If a singer seems to be a little pitchy, especially if they are a singer who is normally very good, chances are it’s because they can’t hear themselves. With all other instruments (and also singers as well), listen to hear how tight the timing is. If they fall behind then catch themselves back up a few times (or push ahead and pull back) then they probably can’t hear either. Drummers in particular have a tendency to push tempo when they can’t hear, however if they aren’t particularly brilliant drummers they may just not really be listening.

As for the actual mixing of this gig, it was mostly level riding, boosts for solos, a little EQ to tidy it up, nothing too fancy, a little bit of reverb as well, all on a basic yamaha mixer.

2. The audio CD and DVD of performance

While all this is going on, a spaced pair of matched cardioid condensers are set up on a high pole in the middle of the audience (everything run neatly so that it only takes up the space of one chair) to record the whole thing, running to the stage multicore and back to a separate digital mixer with a reverb effect on it to enhance the room a little. This signal is then sent to a Tascam CD Burner and a HD video camera running to a DVD burner. This CD and DVD is burnt/ripped/copied/backedup in numerous ways for numerous people and for the Cons achieves.

That’s a little for one person to do for almost 12 hours a day 6 days a week during exam week.

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Everybody knows that the most important part of working with sound is having good ears, these are my personal favourites for ear training:

Apps:

Quiztones- this app lets you choose to either train your tone recognition, or your ability to hear EQ changes in various instruments or your own music, and if you upgrade to pro you get gain level comparison and EQ expert quizes as well!

http://quiztones.net/

EQ Trainer- EQ trainer is only for training fundamental frequencies recognition, however it is has much more variation in difficulty and also is designed to help you improve your speed at recognising them.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/eq-trainer/id458969341?mt=8

Remember: apps are good to keep your practice up, but they only go so far in difficulty, for really serious ear training you will probably need to try one of these…

Audio Books/Listening CDs:

Golden Ears- Golden Ears is a very intense ear training course for anyone really serious about sound engineering, it trains your ears on frequencies, effects and processing, decays and delays, and then returns to do more advanced work on frequencies. This is an incredible course, I very highly recommend it. The other products on the Molton Laboratories website are worth mentioning too. These include the ‘Playback Platinum Series,’  ‘Total Recording’ by David Moulton, Recording Magazine, and I could go on. Golden Ears (and Total Recording) were created by KIQ productions.

http://www.moultonlabs.com/page/cat/Product/

http://www.kiqproductions.com/

Critical Listening Skills for Audio Professionals- This course is great because it just asks you to sit and listen to the different sounds, rather than write down guesses for listening tests, which isn’t a bad thing, however, I find sometimes I would rather just listen and learn than be constantly testing myself.

http://www.amazon.com/Critical-Listening-Skills-Audio-Professionals/dp/1598630237

Other:

www.trainyourears.com Train Your Ears EQ Edition- this is another good ear training resource, however I would still recommend one of the CD courses.